Sunday, 8 November 2009
Seagulls (14: a sonnet) on the roof of the Jubilee Hall in Aldeburgh yesterday morning, waiting to find out who’d won the 2009 Aldeburgh First Collection Prize . J. O. Morgan with Natural Mechanical is who.
In an October post I quoted Barbara Epler on editing; here’s how that quote continues: ‘And after you do the best you can, you enjoy the beautiful book and people’s pleasure in it. There is the more rare delight of a great success, of a marvelous book reaching a wider audience: the pleasure, as Graham Greene said of the success at the time of William Gerhardie, of watching your horse come in first. Merit doesn’t always have its own reward and when it does, that’s exhilarating.’
Of course there’s more to be done. Anyone who’s read the book knows it should be not only on the poetry shelves of every bookstore but also on the memoirs, children’s and true stories shelves, and in every school too. But meanwhile, Saturday: I was there, taking books, and taking in a reading and Philip Levine in conversational mode – funny, serious, laced with the occasional expletive (a particular occasion being a scenario in which he’s stuck for four hours in a lift with Ben Jonson): this is something the older-generation Americans do so much better than the Brits. And going for a long walk along the beach in brisk autumnal weather, which is also exhilarating.